Canisius Ambassadors for Conservation

Michael Noonan

Canisius College

Buffalo, New York 14208


The objective of this program is to develop Canisius College students into effective advocates for wildlife.  They serve as Canisius Ambassadors for Conservation (CAC) who convey their knowledge and passion about the natural world to others in a number of different formats. The program promotes wildlife conservation by stimulating community-wide affection for certain animal species, and then using those species as anchors to which wider ecological lessons are tied.   


The Student: The students participate in once-in-a-lifetime experiences in which they explore ecosystems dramatically different from the ones with which they are accustomed. They obtain the many intellectual benefits of thoroughly exploring a single topic in a fully interdisciplinary manner. They develop their public speaking and other communication skills.  They acquire proficiency with technologies such as digital photography, multi-media computer-based presentations, video production and web design. Through their participation, they serve at different times as naturalists, public speakers, teachers, public policy advocates, and computer programmers. These experiences substantially enhance their resumes while allowing them to explore these lines of work as potential career paths.

The College: Canisius College students make presentations to thousands of school children and their accompanying parents and teachers.  An important secondary goal of this project is for the public to make an association between Canisius College and excellence.  Each CAC student is trained to serve as an ambassador for the College and the recruitment of prospective students to Canisius is a component of our outreach activities.
The Community: Locally, our wildlife parks are enhanced by the special experiences that our CAC team provide to their visitors. These institutions are also served by the web presence which we create for them. Distant schools, libraries and zoos are able to assess our CAC programs via our web site, which is designed to enhance scientific knowledge and a better understanding of animals. The conservation themes which are stressed help shape public policy regarding our collective stewardship of nature and natural resources.


Participation is open to all Canisius students and an effort is made to choose participants from varying backgrounds. Applicants are weighed on their commitment to the preservation of nature, their enthusiasm and communication skills, and their ability to handle the on-site requirements of animal studies in natural habitats.


In each year, our study sites serve as anchors around which we tie a web of interconnected lessons. These include:

  • ecology (the interconnectedness of the biotic community)
  • geology (how the physical world provides nutrients, breeding sites, hazards, etc.)
  • meteorology (how short and long term weather conditions affect animals and their communities)
  • anthropological sciences (how the first peoples in each area interacted with the ecosystem)
  • history (how successive human settlements have impacted each ecosystem)
  • public policy (how myriad international, federal and local regulations impact wildlife; how policies that influence decision making and the ways that competing interests are balanced).


Charismatic animal species are used to bring out themes about conservation and the interdisciplinary perspectives that the CAC representatives have learned in their own studies. The goal is to talk with the visiting public even more talk at them.  Therefore, the presentations made by CAC are interactive.  The idea is to stimulate a give-and-take exchange that taps each visitor’s interest in the animals they are seeing, and in this way coax them toward a more pro-conservation life style.


A major goal of the CAC approach is to keep the message positive.  We want to resist the view that the ecology of the world is going down the drain and that the future earth will be terrible place.  We provide honest appraisals of the challenges we face.  But we combine discussions of those challenges with examples of positive conservation success stories.  We do this because we truly feel that good people can make a positive difference in the world, and that there are plenty of reasons to be positive about the future of wildlife on our planet. 

If you are a Canisius student who is enthusiastic about wildlife and you are looking for a way to make a positive contribution, please consider to explore the various pages on the CAC tab above.  Then I will look forward to your application(s)!! 



Contact Info: Michael Noonan, PhD, Canisius College , 2001 Main St., Buffalo, NY 14208